Single Review: Raelle, ‘Close to You’

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Raelle grew up in southeast London, where she and her sisters frequently felt isolated and singled out as the only Black family in their neighbourhood. They took solace in making music together. At home, she was surrounded by Motown classics, played the piano, and trained as a classical singer.  Hearing Amy Winehouse’s album ‘Frank’ as an adolescent sparked a creative awakening, and she became captivated with jazz and soul’s freedom of expression and emotiveness. Finding vibes between poetry and melody drive her songwriting process for lyrics and instrumentals to play off each other to tell a story.

Raelle finds singing, particularly soul, a natural way of sharing with others. In a supposedly connected world based on superficial images, soul enables deeper emotional bonding between people with common experiences, and creates a bridge to share those experiences with people from different backgrounds in the musical spirit of Roy Ayers, Etta James, and Nina Simone.

Her debut single, ‘Close To You,’ is a jazz ballad about the renewing power of love. Raelle has pipes and can belt like a gospel singer, but on ‘Close to You’ her rich, smooth soprano conjures the intimacy of singing to a lover with achingly poignant turns of voice over twinkling synths and a stripped-down bassline. A saxophone solo crests over soft vocal harmonies before Raelle’s bittersweet lyrics  “You took my heart and gave me back diamonds and gold/Performed your alchemy and turned my carcass into a brand new soul.” ‘Close to You’ is set to be released on 20 March 2020.